Coaching is a very rewarding role if you are able to cultivate the right interpersonal skills. This article will provide you with the 5 most important interpersonal skills to work on to benefit you and your team.
1. Build Solid Boundaries
As a coach, you will spend a great deal of time with your players. You will share with them some of their most emotionally charged moments, from the disappointment and frustration of losses and poor performances to the jubilation of winning and setting personal records. You will become their confidant and mentor. At times, you will also feel like their friend. However, it is important to remember that at the end of the day, your primary role is that of an authority figure. Never let anything come before that.
2. What it Takes to Be a Good Authority Figure
The best advice you can take to build good balance of authority and friendliness with your players is to remember this: respect first, friendship second. It is easier to start off firm and then lighten up than it is to start off too friendly and then build respect later. Set your rules from day one, and consistently and fairly follow through with them. Be just as consistent and fair with your praise. Consistency is the most important interpersonal skill of coaching for earning your players’ trust.
3. How to Handle Wins and Losses
It is important to display moderate reactions to both wins and losses. When your team wins and your players perform well, praise them for specific achievements, allow them to feel confident and enjoy the feeling. At the same time, encourage them to be humble. When your team loses and your players make mistakes, validate their difficult feelings.
At the same time, remind them that mistakes are how we learn and that being overly critical will result in further mistakes. Go beyond the pep talk, and physically show them what to learn and how to grow from each mistake. This might be the most challenging interpersonal skill to build, because you will be just as invested in your wins and losses as your players are.
4. Check Up on Your Players
Your players are more than just players. They are people, will full lives and human challenges. Make a point to keep tabs on how they are doing in every aspect of their lives. Make sure they are physically capable of handling what each game and practice will demand of them. First, this approach contributes to the building of trust. Second, the better your players are feeling overall, the better your team will perform.
5. Balance Work and Fun
Sports are competitive. Everyone’s goal is to win, so winning takes hard work and serious determination. Sports are also fun! The most successful athletes are the ones who enjoy the game. As a coach, it is your job to motivate your players to work hard and take the game seriously, and then reward them by nurturing the love of the game. You must understand your players’ emotional experiences as well as your own, and you must manage the interactions between the two. Sports psychologists refer to this particular interpersonal skill as emotional intelligence, as discussed in this helpful article about emotionally intelligent coaching published by Psychology Today.
By applying these suggestions, you will earn respect and trust from your team. You will improve your team’s performance and maintain morale even during the roughest challenges of the season. Cultivating these 5 interpersonal skills is your first step to successful coaching!